Understand Religion in Japan: Shinto and Related Cultures | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

Understand Religion in Japan: Shinto and Related Cultures

By Guidable Writers Aug 12, 2016


<Shinto’s Shrine>

On this article, we will keep learning about Shinto and its features and related cultures.
To check previous article, please go to this….[Understand Religion in Japan: Shinto and Its History]


<Main and Offering Hall>

According to the shrine’s architecture style, the main hall (honden) and offering hall (haiden) are two separate buildings or combined into one building.

The shrine’s sacred object are contained in the main hall’s inmost chamber, while visitors make their prayers and offerings at the offering hall.



There are stages for gagaku dance or noh theater performances can be found at some shrines.



Visitor to the shrine write their wishes on these wooden plates and then leave them at the shrine in the hope that their wishes come true. Most people wish for good health, success in business, passing entrance exams, love or wealth.


There are omikuji which are fortune telling paper slip at many shrines and temples. Omikji are randomly drawn, they contain predictions ranging from daikichi ”great good luck” to daikyo “great bad luck” .  By tying the piece of omikuji paper around a tree’s branch, good fortune will be come true or bad fortune can be averted.


Shimenawa is straw rope with white zigzag paper strips (shide). It marks the boundary to something sacred and you can find on tori gates, around sacred trees and stones, etc.

A rope similar to the shimenawa is also worn by yokozuna, the highest ranked sumo wrestlers, during ritual ceremonies.

There are a variety of additional buildings such as the priest’s house and office, a storehouse for mikoshi and other auxiliary buildings.

On the other hand, you can not find cemeteries at shrines, because death is considered a cause of impurity in Shinto, and cemeteries are dealt with mostly by Buddhism in Japan.


スクリーンショット 2016-08-12 21.23.55

The architecture and features of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples have melted together over the centuries. They have several construction styles, most of which show Buddhist influences from the Asian mainland. Only a few shrines are considered to be built in a purely Japanese style. Shinto’s most important shrines are the Ise Shrines.

There are tens of thousands of shrines across Japan, some of which can be categorized into a few major groups of shrines.


<Imperial Shrines>

These are the shrines which were directly funded and administered by the government during the era of state Shinto.

They include many of Shinto’s most important shrines such as the Ise Shrines, Izumo Shrine and Atsuta Shrine. And a number of shrines were newly built during the Meiji Period, such as Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine and Kyoto’s Heian Shrine.

Imperial shrines are recognized by the Imperial family’s chrysanthemum crest. They are called “jingu” rather than ”jinjya”.